PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Tennessee Wesleyan scored the first basket of the game, but it was all University of Pikeville after that, as the seventh-ranked Bears tore past the Bulldogs 98-68 on Wednesday in the season opener at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Bruce Reed led all scorers with 27 points, while Chris Cantino had a big night in the paint with 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Other players in double figures for the Bears were Josh Whitaker with 16 and Keala King with 11. Elisha Justice put together the most complete performance with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
UPIKE shot 53.5 percent from the field, but struggled from behind the arc, hitting just 6-of-20 attempts. Whitaker was the only Bear with multiple threes, shooting 2 for 5.
Dante Turnipseed paced Tennessee Wesleyan off the bench with 15 points and four assists. The Bulldogs are ranked 20th in the NAIA Div. II Preseason Poll and are the preseason favorites to win the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
Shannon Smith knocked down the opening shot for Tennessee Wesleyan, but a jumper from Whitaker a minute later gave the Bears a 4-2 lead that they never lost. An 11-2 run followed, capped off by another Whitaker basket to make it 15-4 less than five minutes into the game.
UPIKE had its largest first-half lead of 24 points at halftime when a Cantino layup made the score 58-34 at the break.
The closest the Bulldogs got in the second half was 17 points after opening with a 7-2 run in the first three minutes. By the six-minute mark, the UPIKE lead had swelled to 30 after a John Nunnally three.
Trey Rakes closed the game for the Bears with a couple of made free throws to make it a 30-point win.
UPIKE is back in action at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday against Ohio State Mansfield at the East Kentucky Expo Center.